Category: Careers

Granite State Manufacturing opens new Nashua campus

By Kimberly Houghton Union Leader Correspondent Sep 10, 2021 Updated Sep 11, 2021

Granite State Manufacturing is broadening its New Hampshire presence with the opening of a new facility in Nashua where it plans to hire 50 new workers.

“This facility was specifically designed and fitted up to support the Navy’s critical needs and expanding the nation’s industrial ship-building base,” said John Allard, CEO of Granite State Manufacturing, a contract manufacturer of specialized equipment for defense, aerospace, medical and other markets.

Headquartered in Manchester, GSM’s new manufacturing facility officially opened its doors this week at the former Ingersoll-Rand campus on Burke Street in Nashua.

The 120,000-square-foot facility will house advanced manufacturing capabilities that support the U.S. Navy’s construction of the Virginia-class and Columbia-class submarines, as well as other systems for Navy and commercial customers.

“The U.S. submarine fleet is paramount to guaranteeing free use of the maritime domain, ensuring our security and protecting our prosperity,” Allard said Friday during a ribbon-cutting event.

Doug Thomson, GSM vice president, said the company is planning to hire 50 new employees within the next year, adding there is a lot of potential at the new Nashua site.

“This is not your father’s machine shop,” said Thomson, explaining the abundance of high-tech equipment such as a new, $2 million Soraluce milling machine.

To support GSM’s buildout, more than $6 million in equipment has been purchased for the Nashua campus where the company will continue to manufacture other equipment that is used on every U.S. submarine fleet.

“The impact of the work at GSM in support of the submarine industrial base is significant at both the state and federal level because the security of our nation depends on so many companies like GSM who work with our Navy and work with other branches of the military to do what we need to protect our national security,” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, one of several elected officials to attend Friday’s grand opening celebration. “ … This expansion is a testament to New Hampshire’s critical role in our national security.”

The capabilities are huge, agreed Allard. There is so much space to allow for new opportunities at the Nashua complex, he said, explaining 60,000 square feet of the building will be used initially, and the remaining 60,000 square feet will be used in the future when further expansion is necessary.

GSM is partnering with Manchester Community College, Nashua Community College and New Hampshire Job Corps in an effort to identify and train potential employees.

“We need to get more people in the game,” said Allard, stressing the need for more welders, machinists, assemblers and engineers.

Sen. Maggie Hassan praised GSM for its ability to innovate, grow, prepare for the future and search for new opportunities to train future workers, work with area colleges, protect the country and also serve as an important economic driver in New Hampshire.

With the expansion of GSM, Congressman Chris Pappas said it is more important than ever to reorient the state’s education system to highlight the many career opportunities that are available in the manufacturing world.

‘We are very excited for the future,” echoed Allard.

The company currently has about 150 workers at its Manchester site.

Aside from the new, 120,000-square-foot building on Burke Street in Nashua, GSM also recently acquired a separate, 27-acre parcel of land on Burke Street for more than $3.65 million that was owned by the city to further expand its business, when warranted.

Mayor Jim Donchess of Nashua said it is nice to see a vacant, underutilized building in Nashua be reinvented for such a worthwhile endeavor that will help with the nation’s defense capabilities.

Granite State Manufacturing highlights need for workers

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Inside a nondescript gray building on the West Side of Manchester, machinists using advanced equipment make parts for the Navy’s latest submarines, including the Columbia-class sub scheduled to start patrols in 2031.

Like most manufacturers across New Hampshire, Granite State Manufacturing needs more workers such as engineers, machinists and welders. A huge “now hiring” sign hangs on the building and can be seen along busy Kelley Street.

“We have the equipment. We have the jobs,” Vice President Doug Thomson said during a tour of the factory Monday. Congressman Chris Pappas arranged the tour to discuss job training programs and partnerships to help attract skilled workers. New Hampshire once again has the lowest unemployment rate in the country, at 2.5%.

Granite State Manufacturing has 11 interns — its largest group in the company’s 84-year history. The company works with both Manchester and Nashua community colleges and the New Hampshire Job Corps Center to add to its workforce.

“We are even targeting high schools now and trying to go after getting kids even younger who may decide four-year college isn’t worth the cost,” said John Allard, chairman and CEO. “We’ve got great opportunities where they can make a lot of money a lot quicker with some of these trades.”

The company has about 140 workers and is looking to hire about 60 more in the next few years, Thomson said.

“It probably won’t be in the next year because we probably won’t be able to find them,” he said. “The growth is absolutely there.”

The company operates a second plant in Nashua, which helps draw workers from Massachusetts.

In 2019, the company secured $25 million in defense contracts to produce specialized submarine systems for the U.S. Navy. The Columbia class is the Navy’s next generation of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines.

The company continues to work on Virginia-class submarines and recently picked up work on the aging Ohio-class submarines, which will eventually be replaced by Columbia. The products include cable systems, oxygen-generation systems and two antennae.

The company also creates parts for surface ships and unmanned systems, such as bomb disposal robots.

Recruiting workers

Allard said the state needs to work to “fill the funnel,” noting manufacturing is a viable career path for young people. Some adults choose to change careers.

“The funnel is ready,” he said. “We just have to attract more people to take this path instead of another path.”

The company offers mentoring between senior and younger workers. Some perks include training programs and money toward two-year schooling.

The work of a machinist is becoming increasingly technology-driven, Thomson said.

One welding engineer with a degree from Ohio State University, who returned to New Hampshire, walked in one day asking for a job and was hired nearly on the spot. He has drawn interns from his university.

The company has also worked to attract workers who don’t want to work the traditional 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Flexible schedules are available for those looking to work part-time.

Some of the job opportunities include assemblers, drivers, engineers, industrial painters, inspectors, machinists and welders.

Pappas mentioned the pride employees pour into their work and the great “mission-driven” career available at the company.

A sign inside the plant reads, “Their safety at sea depends on your quality here at GSM.”

“It is exciting to see a company with such longstanding roots in the community doing so well and working on important projects involving national defense,” Pappas said.

The pandemic highlighted the need to have manufacturing operations stateside, he said.

Company officials mentioned work with the Navy is steady for the next 15 years.

The Columbia class is considered the No. 1 priority of the Navy.

“We are making parts for it now because that’s how long it takes to build a submarine,” he said.

Granite State Manufacturing Secures $25 Million in New US Navy Contracts

Leading Manchester, NH Manufacturer Creating Additional Jobs, Seeking Skilled Workers (November 4, 2019) Granite State Manufacturing (GSM), an Allard Nazarian Group Company, has been awarded over $25M in new contracts to support United States Navy submarine programs. Family-owned and operated for over 80 years, GSM is a leader in specialized equipment contract manufacturing and is […]